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People v. Rodriguez

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division

February 27, 2018

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JUAN RODRIGUEZ, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. No. 11 CR 17332 (01) Honorable Lauren Ediden, Judge Presiding.

          JUSTICE MASON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Pucinski and Hyman concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          MASON JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 In May 2013, the State appealed the trial court's ruling that defendant Juan Rodriguez, who was found not not guilty of aggravated criminal sexual assault on the basis of unfitness, was not required to register as a sex offender pursuant to the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA or Act) (730 ILCS 150/1 et seq. (West 2012)) because he was incapable of understanding the registration requirements. We held that pursuant to People v. Cardona, 2013 IL 114076, ¶ 25, "an individual found not not guilty of a sex offense, even on the basis of being found unfit, falls within the purview of SORA" and is required to register. (Emphasis in original.) People v. Rodriguez, 2014 IL App (1st) 141255-U, ¶ 25.

         ¶ 2 On remand, the trial court ordered Rodriguez to register as a sex offender, and Rodriguez now appeals that ruling, arguing that the SORA statutory scheme is unconstitutional both on its face and as applied to him, an unfit defendant allegedly incapable of understanding the registration requirements. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.

         ¶ 3 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 4 The facts of this case were set forth in detail in our order of December 30, 2014, Rodriguez, 2014 IL App (1st) 141255-U, ¶¶ 4-17, and we describe here only those proceedings that occurred following remand to the trial court.

         ¶ 5 On April 16, 2015, the trial court held a hearing to notify Rodriguez, who was represented by counsel, of his obligation to register under SORA. The State read the registration requirements to Rodriguez on the record, and they were translated into Spanish. But when Rodriguez was asked to sign a document stating that he understood the registration requirements, he repeatedly stated "I don't understand what is this. I don't know what this is." In response to his counsel's objection that Rodriguez was incapable of understanding what was required of him, the State struck the language indicating otherwise, but Rodriguez persisted in his refusal to sign. The trial court then ordered the State to indicate on the form that it was "read and translated in open court, " that Rodriguez was present with his attorney and a translator, and that he refused to sign. This appeal follows.

         ¶ 6 ANALYSIS

         ¶ 7 The sole issue on appeal is the constitutionality of subjecting unfit defendants found not not guilty of sexual assault to SORA's "statutory scheme, " which, according to Rodriguez, encompasses the duty to register (730 ILCS 150/3 (West 2014)), the penalty for noncompliance with the registration requirements and the failure to register (id. §§ 7, 10), the limitations on a sex offender's residence and presence in certain locations (720 ILCS 5/11-9.3, 11-9.4-1 (West 2014)), the requirement that a sex offender must renew his driver's license yearly (730 ILCS 5/5- 5-3(o) (West 2014)), and the prohibition on name changes for sex offenders (735 ILCS 5/21-101 (West 2014)).

         ¶ 8 At the outset, two preliminary matters demand our attention. First, we address the State's argument that the law of the case doctrine bars Rodriguez's constitutional challenge to SORA. The State contends that we decided this issue in our 2014 order holding that Rodriguez was required to register as a sex offender. But contrary to the State's assertion, our holding did not rest on constitutional grounds. Rather, we relied on Cardona and engaged in statutory interpretation to conclude that, notwithstanding that he was found not not guilty of committing a sex offense, Rodriguez met the statutory definition of a sex offender and, as such, was required to register under SORA. Rodriguez, 2014 IL App (1st) 141255-U, ¶ 25. Because we did not rule on the constitutionality of the SORA statutory scheme, the law of the case does not preclude consideration of Rodriguez's constitutional challenge in this appeal.

         ¶ 9 Next, we turn to the issue of standing. The State contends that Rodriguez lacks standing to mount a challenge to all but section 3 of SORA, setting forth the registration requirements. In order to have standing to challenge the constitutionality of a statute, a person must have suffered or be in imminent danger of suffering a direct injury as a result of the statute's enforcement. People v. Greco, 204 Ill.2d 400, 409 (2003). In other words, a party may not raise a constitutional challenge to a statute that does not affect him or her. In re Veronica C., 239 Ill.2d 134, 147 (2010).

         ¶ 10 We have previously considered and rejected the State's argument that a defendant sex offender lacks standing to challenge the limitations on presence and residence applicable to him as well as the other civil consequences he faces as a result of his sex offender status (yearly renewal of his driver's license and inability to change his name). See People v. Avila-Briones, 2015IL App (1st) 132221, ¶¶ 40-43; People v. Pollard, 2016 IL App (5th) 130514, ¶¶ 26-27. In Avila-Briones, 2015 IL App (1st) 132221, ¶ 41, we explained that the restrictions on residency, presence, and name changes, as well as the requirement to renew one's driver's license annually, are all automatically applicable to a defendant classified as a sex offender. Merely because a defendant does not allege that he wishes to live in a certain prohibited location or change his name, it does not follow that he is not affected by these laws. Id. ¶ 42. Therefore, Rodriguez has standing to challenge these provisions.

         ¶ 11 However, we agree with the State that Rodriguez lacks standing to challenge section 10 of SORA (prescribing the penalty for failure to register) because he has not been charged with violating that section. The juvenile defendant made a similar claim to standing in In re A.C., 2016IL App (1st) 153047, ΒΆ 24, which we rejected, explaining that where the respondent had not failed to comply with his registration requirements or been charged with a felony, he was not in danger of suffering a direct injury as a result of that provision. Similarly, Rodriguez has not alleged that he failed to register or ...


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